Vintage 2015 – Progress Report
Thu, 19 February 2015
We’ve had an interesting start to vintage 2015 with what our vineyard manager, Colin describes as an ‘upside down growing season’. It was dry early in October, and then cool and mild in December and January with some rainfall. The opposite is usually the case with October usually seeing the mild conditions and some rain and December and January being relatively warm and dry! In any case, the stored water in our dams from above average June rainfall meant we were able to irrigate during the dry October months and keep the vines in optimal health. Whilst moisture levels can be somewhat controlled, we can’t control temperature and sudden and dramatic falls in overnight temperatures usually bring the threat of frost. As it happened, in mid-October, the Taylor family estate experienced a frost event. And whilst the extent of crop loss in the affected blocks is still to be fully assessed, overall the quality of the fruit developing for vintage 2015 looks to be great.
Vintage officially commenced at Taylors Wines with processing of fruit for our new sparkling wine – the Taylors Estate Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Cuvee on January 19th. On the 3rd of February the first of the fruit for the table wines was harvested; Semillon. Later that same week, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer were picked from blocks on the Clare Valley estate. The first of the red table wine varieties; Tempranillo was picked on 11th February. This is earlier than we would have expected but when they are ripe and ready, we are not going to argue! In fact, this vintage is turning out to be a pretty ‘fast and furious’ affair, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the vintage of 2007.
One of the great things about our cellars and winery is that they are designed with both gentle handling and capacity in mind so we can happily keep receiving those lovely ripe grapes as quickly as they want to ripen. Embracing continuous innovation is one of our core values so we always have lots of interesting R&D projects on the go. This vintage is no exception, although one piece of new equipment seems to be causing more excitement than usual. Our winemakers have collaborated with some forward thinking tank manufacturers to install a new small capacity fermentation vessel. The unusual thing about this vessel is that it is shaped like an egg! Now egg-shaped fermenters aren’t exactly new. What’s new in this case is that it is constructed from stainless steel. In fact, it’s the first stainless steel egg-shaped fermenter in the world! We all agreed it looked a bit like Mork’s spaceship. Now, of course, there have been concrete, clay and porcelain egg-shaped fermenters but the problem with these is the fact that you can keep them as clean as you would like and they are usually very small. With stainless steel, you can completely sterilize and sanitize them; controlling the ‘zoo’ of microorganisms present in wine making is very important. And you can make them with larger capacity. Winemakers generally seek the egg shape fermenter as there is a convection currents created inside the vessel due to the shape during fermentation – this effectively ‘mixes’ the fermenting must without any mechanical intervention – a very gentle and efficient way of extracting all of the colour and flavour that translates into quality wine! We’ll let you know how our egg-fermented wines turn out!
Right now, the cellars are quickly filling with the gorgeous aromas of fermenting grapes – it really is an exciting time of the year. I’ve said it before but I’ll happily repeat it – this is what I love about wine. It’s not just a beverage that you can make from a recipe anytime you like. The grapes ripen as Mother Nature sees fit and the wines we craft from this vintage represents a snapshot in time or history even. As these ‘fruits of our labour’ go through their various processing, fermentation and maturation stages on the way to being completed, my thoughts often wander to the future and what life will be like when we are enjoying these fine wines from vintage 2015.